Pak-Austria Fachhochschule: One More Step Toward Building Knowledge Economy in Pakistan
|Pak-Austria Fachhochschule (PAF-IAST) Campus, Haripur, Pakistan|
21st Century Workforce:
Pakistan's economy is rapidly transforming from traditional agriculture to modern business and industry. Accelerating penetration of smartphones, personal computers, flat screens, mobile broadband, indoor plumbing, motorized vehicles, home appliances, air-conditioners, tractors, tube-wells, advanced construction machines and solar and other technology-based products and services requires a highly skilled workforce to design, manufacture, market, sell, operate and service.
Building this new highly skilled workforce must begin with designing curricula and facilities. It also demands a new crop of trainers and educators and closer collaboration between academia and industry.
PAF-IAST aspires to be a leader in delivering effective education for the 21st century workforce. Currently, only 18% of Pakistanis and 19% of Indians under the age of 24 have the skills required for 21st century jobs, according to a United Nations and Business Coalition for Education study. It's the percentage of all school age children on track to complete secondary AND reach the learning benchmarks spelled out by National Achievement Test (NAT) 2016 for Pakistan and NCERT 2017 for India.
Built in collaboration with the Austrian government, Pak-Austria Fachhochschule (PAF-IAST), Haripur will offer specialized courses in artificial intelligence, railway engineering, mining, agriculture, food technologies and other fields. “Set in middle of the campus is natural lake, fed by the springs of surrounding mountains. The campus is just a 3-kilometer drive from the Hazara Motorway,” according to PAF-IAST.
National University of Technology (NUTech), an institution similar to PAF-IAST and chartered institution of higher learning, was launched in Islamabad in 2018.
NUTech will not only produce hands-on engineers and scientists but it will also serve as an umbrella organization for training skilled technicians and tradespeople to build, service and maintain advanced technology-based plant and equipment.
NUTech will work with a national network of technical and vocational training institutes to produce skilled workers. It will include representatives of business and industry in design of curricula to ensure these workers meet the needs of the industry.
|National University of Technology (NUTech) Campus in Islamanad|
Pakistan Air Force's Air University, established in 2002, is an example of a specialized institution aimed at developing human capital in the aviation sector.
Development of a new advanced fighter is a wide-ranging effort that will encompass building human capital in a variety of fields including material science, physics, electronics, computer science, computer software, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, avionics, weapons design, etc.
Air University has added a new campus in Kamra Aviation City. The university already offers bachelor's master's and doctoral degrees in several subjects. Pakistan Air Force Chief Sohail Aman told Quwa Defense News that the campus will “provide the desired impetus for cutting-edge indigenization programs, strengthen the local industry and harness the demands of foreign aviation industry by reducing … imports and promoting joint research and production ventures.”
Higher Education in Pakistan:
There are over 3 million students enrolled in grades 13 through 16 in Pakistan's 1,086 degree colleges and 161 universities, according to Pakistan Higher Education Commission report for 2013-14. The 3 million enrollment is 15% of the 20 million Pakistanis in the eligible age group of 18-24 years. In addition, there are over 255,000 Pakistanis enrolled in vocational training schools, according to Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA).
|Graduation Day at NED Engineering University For 1300 Graduates in 2013|
|Source: UNESCO's Global Education Digest 2009|
Higher education in Pakistan has come a long way since its independence in 1947 when there was only one university, the University of Punjab. By 1997, the number of universities had risen to 35, of which 3 were federally administered and 22 were under the provincial governments, with a combined enrollment of 71,819 students. A big spending boost by President Pervez Musharraf helped establish 51 new universities and awarding institutions during 2002-2008. This helped triple university enrollment from 135,000 in 2003 to about 400,000 in 2008, according to Dr. Ata ur Rehman who led the charge for expanding higher education during Musharraf years. There are 161 universities with 1.5 million students enrolled in Pakistan as of 2014. As of 2019, there are 174 universities in the country.
Former Chairman of HEC summed up the country's higher education progress well in a piece he wrote for The News in 2012: "Pakistan has achieved critical mass and reached a point of take-off. For this phenomenal growth to continue, it is important for the government and other stakeholders to support and further strengthen the HEC as a national institution and protect its autonomy. If this momentum continues for another 10 years, Pakistan is certain to become a global player through a flourishing knowledge economy and a highly literate population".
Pakistan is expanding science and technology education with institutions like PAF-IAST and NUTech. These represent progress toward building Pakistan's knowledge economy and grow high-value technology-based exports. Pakistan is collaborating with several countries, including the United States and China, to build up high-skills education capacity in the country. Early progress is confirmed by a Nature magazine report that Pakistan's scientific output is growing at the fastest rate in the world. Pakistan's high-tech exports are relatively low but surging by double digits, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.
|Here's an introductory video about Pak-Austria Fachhochschule Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (PAF-IAST) Pakistan:|
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